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Tarnished Empire

(Dark Shores #0.5)

4.54  ·  Rating details ·  156 ratings  ·  82 reviews

A siege is laid against the last resistance to the Senate’s rule. As the battle rages, a commander, a soldier, and a rebel will decide how far they are willing to go for victory.


Marcus is forced to choose between destroying the rebel forces and liberating his legion. He must face the true cost of being a leader. And an opp
Published January 26th 2021
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Danielle Jensen Yes! You can absolutely read it first if you'd like, but you definitely want to read it prior to reading GILDED SERPENT, which is book 3 of the main s…moreYes! You can absolutely read it first if you'd like, but you definitely want to read it prior to reading GILDED SERPENT, which is book 3 of the main series!(less)
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Average rating 4.54  · 
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Danielle Jensen
Jan 01, 2021 added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
I'm going to use this space to give you a few details about this novel.

Subscribe to my newsletter to read the first 8 chapters for FREE!

Reviewers say it gives them the same vibes as Spartacus, 300, Troy, Gladiator, and The Song of Achilles

1. It is a full length young adult NOVEL at 70k words, although it is shorter than most of the novels I write. But is most definitely NOT A NOVELLA.

2. It takes place in the same world as my YA epic fantasy series DARK S
Helena of Eretz ✰
I received this complimentary ARC, courtesy of Danielle L Jensen, in exchange for an honest review.

4.5 stars!!! But rounded up because of how much I enjoyed myself, of course! :D


For anyone who's wondering what the reading order is for this series:
- you can read Tarnished Empire
- you can read Dark Shores
- you can read Dark Skies in any order

In comparison to other prequels that I’ve read, this is more than a novella with over 200 pages
Lucie V.
This is more a novella than a prequel. It is also described as being a "Marcus prequel", but it's honestly more about Agrippa, but it's okay because I adored him.

You can read Tarnished Empire before or after reading Dark Shores and Dark Skies, but I would definitely recommend reading it before Gilded Serpent (view spoiler).

This novella is almost 300 pages of Ancient Roman strategies and fighting. It is more similar to Dark S
Oct 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Trust me when I say that a legion camp is more gossipy than a brothel, especially a camp sitting on its laurels. When we get bored we cause drama for the sake of entertainment."

Tarnished Empire takes place before Dark Shores, during one of their earlier conquests in Bardeen. Perfectly paced and layered, it kind of has it all. With my man Marcus gracing the cover and only 200+ pages, this short tale is told from 3 POV's and it's packed with politics, jealousy, betrayal, humor and loss.

I love the
Feb 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Loved this! Dark Shores by, Danielle Jensen makes so much more sense with this Prequel/Novella. After reading Dark Shores, I felt like I needed some backstory, and Tarnished Empire fills in the gaps that were missing from the first book. If you like stories of ancient Rome, forbidden romance, and legionnaires fighting to survive a ruthless Senate..look no further.

This book leaves you wanting more! The pacing is fast and action packed. The romance is so good and heartbreaking. I'm definitely tea
Sowmya (bookishelflife)
And my friends that’s how it’s done- Danielle Jenson is the master of her skill and this is another perfect example, detailed review to come ❤️

Tarnished empire is another peek into the massive Dark Shores world that Danielle has graciously blessed us with. It happens before dark shores but don't let that take you a step back from this because the book falls nothing short of its successors, if you loved Marcus from Dark Shores this is your chance to see him and learn more about him as he starts h
The second time I’m writing this review because Goodreads ate the first review I tried to post. And spent 30 min writing. I was really proud of it too UGHHHHH. Trying again.

“Glory always had a price.”

Tarnished Empire is easily one of my new favorite DLJ books, and easily my favorite book of the Dark Shores world. Though significantly shorter than her other works, Tarnished Empire packs sooo much goodness into every single page. Filled with action, romance, humor, conflict...Tarnished Empire
Troy meets gladiator and 300 in this awesome new addition to the dark shores series. This was such a great read!

I Loved reading all three pov’s and there’s yet again a fantastic balance regarding (among other things) politics, storyline development, character development and romance. And then there’s also Danielle’s addictive and impeccable writing style of course, which is just the icing to the cake and makes it an unputdownable read from beginning till end.

Cant wait to now do a reread of dar
Richel (letsreadshallwe)
“What good is proof when the culprit is judge and jury?”

Hail to the queen because Danielle L Jensen just played with my feelings again and I’m not even mad about it.

Set in the world of Dark Shores, Tarnished Empire is another masterpiece that I thoroughly enjoyed reading from the beginning till end. I am #TeamMarcus through and through however, the introduction of a new character in this world inspired by Ancient Rome made me question my loyalty.

This book made me laugh so much from the first f
Victoria Booklover
Mar 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing

That’s it.

That’s the review.

I’m lying 🤣. But Jesus Christ if I don’t worship the ground he walks on...that man is perfection.

So anyways a little backstory, I’ve only read Dark Shores and I did like it....but I did NOT care about Marcus one bit. Knowing this was party focused on Marcus is what made me a little less interested to pick this up, but then I looked at the gorgeous art Gabi did for Agrippa and I was...I was at his mercy 🤣.

So when I went into this I was a bit frustrated because
Jessica Turner
Jan 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

If you, like me, became enamoured with everything Roman when your grade 5 class talked about the Colosseum and Trevi Fountain, then you NEED the Dark Shores series on your bookshelf.

This is a prequel novel that follows Marcus, The Commander of the Thirty-Seventh Legion, a fierce and hardened group of men, raised from childhood to be the fearsome fist of the Empire. We also meet Agrippa, a soldier in Marcus' legion with a snarky tongue and loyal to all ends, and
Bradley (AudioShelf)
First and for most, I want to thank Danielle L. Jensen & Literary Bound Book Tours for sending me a copy of Tarnished Empire in exchange for an honest review.

I’m going to start off by saying that I truly believe Jensen is one hell of an imaginative writer. The way she intertwines her stories and her characters is admirable.

Speaking of characters, I love the three perspectives in TE. Marcus is obviously my favorite as he is a freaking dreamboat. Marcus is such a strong commander that is torn be
Katie Prouty
Oct 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"When will you Empire boys see that the path they push you down is not the path you must follow? When will you see that there is another option, if only you were willing to fight for it?"

A commander. A Solider. A rebel. Marcus, the Thirty-Seventh's legatus, has a budding reputation: Prodigy of Lescendor, the brightest mind, undefeatable, a strategic genius. He is forced to give Proconsul Plotius Grypus a strategy to conquer Hydrilla and stuck under the control of the older Legatus of the Twen
Nov 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With a lot of thanks to Danielle L Jensen whom provided me with an E-Arc edition of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I have read the other two books of this series and I loved those. So when their was a posibility of me getting an e-arc for this book I took my change. And it did not dissapoint.

I loved how we got a look inside the world of Marcus before Dark Shores. And I really like it how sassy Danielle can make her characters. Also the amount of politics in this book is really nice
Nov 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tarnished Empire is a YA fantasy romance inspired by ancient Rome ( yep you heard me), featuring flaming romance, epic battles and lots of political intrigue!
Let me quickly explain the situation:

Winter is coming and with it war and bloodshed: a castle surrounded by legions under siege, an icy wind blowing through the legion camp, legionnaires dying one by one, innocent starving people, forbidden love, betrayal, heartbreak, treason, with the theme of camaraderie and loyalty in the center of it al
Cait | GoodeyReads
Thank you to the author, Danielle L. Jensen for an eARC!



Set in the Dark Shores world, this book about Marcus (and some new characters) is definitely worth the read. It’s especially recommended before Gilded Serpent (book three), but can be read at any time!

I loved this. So much. I love Marcus, and getting more of his background was exactly what I wanted. I didn’t realize how much I would fall in love with the other characters too. AGRIPPA? Yes, please. He is a new ad
Nov 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First I would like to say a BIG thank you to Danielle Jensen for providing me an ARC in exchange for my honest review! Like everything Danielle has written I absolutely LOVED this book!!

Tarnished Empire is a novel that takes place in the world of Dark Shores. I'd suggest reading it after Dark Shores but you can totally read it before too! But you DEFINITELY need to read it before reading Gilded Serpent (book 3). This book provided so much insight into Marcus and those of the 37th!! I loved seein
Oct 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sent-by-author, arc
Review originally posted on My Bookish Escapades.


This book was SO. GOOD. I read it in one sitting, and short of the world ending, nothing could have pried me away from it.

Danielle Jensen definitely delivered. The first time I saw this book (MARCUS!!), I was already half obsessed. But after reading it? It was nothing short of AMAZING, and I honestly just want to read it again.

The best part about Tarnished Empire? (And I think no one would be surprised by now.) Marcus. Gorgeous
Jan 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
She sang of the spirits and the forests, and how a strong soul would grow a tree that reached to the sky. She sang until his muscled shoulders stilled beneath her hands, until his breathing steadied against her throat, and only then allowed the last note to trail away. Then she pushed him upright and kissed his forehead. "For Yaro. May his tree grow to tower above all others."

The Dark Shores world that Danielle L. Jensen created is full of roman inspiration, nail biting war, a dash of fantas
Feb 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Danielle L Jensen is one of those authors I always wonder HOW she is not more well known?

I love this series and this was no exception, we get introduced to a new member of Marcus' 37 legion and have appearances from our old favourites.

It's a prequel but I would highly advise you to read Dark shores First! Otherwise you just won't understand Marcus.

It is a novella but doesn't read like one (by that I mean the normal fluffy novella where nothing happens except they do some dull hobby/party/dinne
Feb 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
It's always tougher to write a review for a novella. I think this story could also be a good full-length novel, but I understand why Danielle chose to write this as a novella. Agrippa is the annoying handsome boy I would have totally been in love with as a teenager. Really curious how this story brings background to Gilded Serpent! ...more
Dec 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this was amazing 💔
Jan 17, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tarnished Empire is the prequel I didn’t know I needed but I did, I so did. There’s action, betrayal, politics, love and so much more. I love Agrippa there’s just something so endearing about him that I can’t get enough of. If anyone is keeping score I now love every hero of this series. I can’t wait to see what happens next especially with how this ended. I highly recommend this series. It’s awesome.

Copy provided by author
Dec 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! Can I say that I love Agrippa!

This book was so awesome. Well paced, well written. I love the world and the characters Danielle created! She makes you feel a range if emotions in her books and I love the way she writes.

So many important things happened in a short amount of time and this serves as an excellent bridge to Gilded Serpent, which I can't wait to read!
Nicole (FearYourEx)
5/5 stars

Thank you to the author for the free e-ARC!

I absolutely adore this series and the characters. I loved learning more about Marcus as he was paving his way. And more about how he ruled his legion. And I was also very interested in Agrippa and Silvara and I'm curious to see where or how they'll show up again in the future. The romance was believable and sweet. And the side characters all had excellent roles.

My favorite part of this series is that you can read Tarnished Empire, Dark Shores,
Fu reads
Jan 06, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tarnished Empire is set in the world of Danielle L. Jensen’s Dark Shores, before the events that transpired in Dark Shores and Dark Skies. It’s a book inspired by the harsh world of ancient Rome and the story is told from three points of view.

The thirty-seventh legion is tasked to help crush the last of the Bardenesse resistance: they are stationed outside Hydrilla, a rebel fortress holding out against the might of the Celendor Empire. Marcus, the legatus of the 37th legion, has his own strategy
Jan 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The Dark Shores series was one of my favourite reads of 2020 and I literally could not wait to get my hands on this one. Seriously, I full on fan girled, did a little happy dance (may have hugged my kindle) when I was blessed by the ARC gods (here's looking at you Danielle) with Tarnished Empire.

More Ancient Rome inspired fantasy adventure? more of our boys from the 37th? MORE MARCUS? I'm sold. It is the perfect prequal. Action, Romance, Suspense, Drama and all the Witty Humour? This book has i
Haley Renee The Caffeinated Reader

I love Jensen’s Dark Shores books, so hearing there was going to be a little ‘.5’ book, well I definitely and immediately signed up for a chance to read it before it came out. I was not disappointed.

After not reading the books for a while, I completely forgot how much I missed the 37th legion and Marcus so it was great to see their sort of ‘humble’ (read that as dark and tragically sad) beginnings under the 29th legion.

All the characters in this have so ma
Ashley McNeil
“Shrugging, Agrippa gave his commander a saucy grin. ‘I’m afraid my humor refuses to be so constrained, sir. It bursts forth like the blossoms of a barmaid in a too-tight dress.’
‘Your humor is going to be the death of you. And me.’ Marcus wiped at his chin, then frowned at the book on his hand.”

I feel like the above quote pretty much explains the relationship between the two main men in this book and I AM HERE FOR IT.

I loved this book, which is no surprise bc I have a strong love of the Dark S
Sara Zaninelli
Jan 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
“You do the dead no honor by forgetting them and their stories.”

Wow, the only thing I can think now is that I WANT MORE. I loved all the three main characters in this novel! I expect great things from Marcus in the next book of the series and I really hope to find out more about Agrippa and Silvara as well. Agrippa is such a precious boy, he is so much fun but he is loyal and fierce and he deserves to be happy! Silvara is a rebel forced to betray the man she is falling in love with. But how ar
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Danielle L. Jensen is the USA Today bestselling author of The Malediction Trilogy (Angry Robot), the Dark Shores series (Tor Teen), and The Bridge Kingdom series (Audible Originals). She lives in Calgary, Alberta with her family.

I would love to be your friend on Goodreads!

Other books in the series

Dark Shores (4 books)
  • Dark Shores (Dark Shores, #1)
  • Dark Skies (Dark Shores, #2)
  • Gilded Serpent (Dark Shores, #3)
  • Untitled (Dark Shores, #4)

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